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Sunday, July 20, 2003

Speaking of cars...

While we are on the subject, here's a fascinating bit of
crazy artistry that I came across today - a Honda
commercial which is a Rube Goldberg parody of an
automobile assembly line - it is silly, but worth a look....

This link was sent via What Matters an interesting e-newsletter I subscribe friend Boudewijn Wegerif says this advertisement doesn't *matter* at all - it is flawless, yet inane....

See for yourself! BTW, it cost six million dollars to make this commercial,
and it took three months, 605 takes, to get it right!
Yes, isn't it great, when things *just work* ....

The What Matters e-letter posted with this commercial also has a fascinating discussion by Alan Lewis on"cheap oil" - Think about it!

“Cheap oil is the mote that obscures clear vision; it is the ground condition from which an entire unreal world is built. It gives us bad information, terribly bad information, about the implications of what we are doing. As a result it is as though we literally ‘cannot see’ what we are doing.

”Without high-quality information, people will not, and in the most realistic terms ‘cannot’, make good decisions, because they cannot ‘see’.

”True cost pricing of oil acts to let the price of a key commodity convey QUALITY information, information that reflects economic and geologic limitations and realities, and actual outlays. At present, gas at $1.50/gallon is not quality information; it is misinformation. Hence, millions of people, businesses and municipalities, acting on misinformation, do all kinds of silly things, like buy SUVs, pave the planet, develop sprawling slurbs, and generally arrange things in a manner that assumes plenty of cheap oil – which is running out. And of course the burning of oil causes environmental problems even if it were NOT running out.

”Further, to raise fuel prices, past a point . . . is not just to raise fuel prices, but to precipitate a reorganization of society. As oil prices increment to multiples of current prices, the entire context changes and it is no longer simply a matter of modest alteration of one's familiar daily decisions and habits. Rather, a radical restructuring of the entire existing order becomes necessary: a retreat from what I call ‘auto-centrism’ and the myriad assumptions and habits that are rooted in cheap oil.

”’Auto-centrism’ denotes the elaborate social, cultural, political, legal, medical, actuarial, economic, financial and physical infrastructural complex, all centered around the automobile, that has been constructed over the past 5-6 decades. The costs of this enormously expensive, wasteful and environmentally-disastrous enterprise are not reflected in current oil/gas pricing. Without the negative feedback of true cost pricing, the monster of auto-centrism continues to grow and devour everything in its path. Auto-centrism is the vampire; true cost pricing is the golden bullet.”
Oil is not so cheap, when people are dying for it.
As former secretary of state Madeleine Albright said, regarding
the five hundred thousand innocent Iraqui children dead because
of US sanctions, "We think the price is worth it." Is the price
still "worth it" now that many many more are dead, and the
cost keeps rising?

Saturday, July 19, 2003


Maybelline was a child of the sixties, a sleek, hard-bodied good looker with tons of sex appeal and a great rear-end. At twenty-five she’d be a classic, an aging beauty queen, her leathery interior softened and all her chrome-jewelry glistening. She was our smooth butter-yellow ’69 Cadillac Coupe de Ville, and for years she gave us first-class cruise service and dependable power with few demands beyond regular meals: quarts of slippery oil and high-lead, high-octane gasoline cocktails.

We moved to Corrales from Taos in an old Jeep Wagoneer full of houseplants, art and cats. Like the cats, and the plants, that Jeep is gone, having steadily disintegrated over several years. Our budget for a new car was limited, while our family had grown. The best buy in the papers for a big car was heavy metal. Maybelline came to us smoking and spitting for $1100, and all she needed was new rubber and hoses, having been left out to dry for a long time in a south valley backyard.

These were the days before mini-vans and sport-utility ubiquity ruled the suburbs. Corrales is a 250-yr.-old self-conscious suburb of a western strip town, stubbornly protecting a green, irrigated valley of the Rio Grande which has been continuously cultivated for over ten thousand years. Maybelline made her own niche as far as image was concerned, by combining the old-money appearance of privilege with lowrider destiny. Everyone loved her.

No, she was never politically-correct, but her practical elegance was undeniable. A proud product of the height of American motor supremacy, she drew admiration from K.C., the Cadillac maven-- Harley-riding, wildman-savant adobe-shade-tree mechanic she introduced us to--who kept her lubed and purring into the ‘eighties.

Maybelline’s creamy leather tuck-and-roll back seat was broad and deep as a parlor sofa. She was warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than our house. Rocking babies to sleep was her specialty, and her hi-fi radio could be a lullaby or a singalong-- those oldies but goodies. While chaos reigned in the house, Robert and I could sit out in the backseat on spring evenings with the doors open, drinking wine in crystal glasses as the light lengthened into gold. ’69 was a fine year.

Maybelline had a trunk that could amply transport five peoples’ bags and bedding for a week-long road-trip, with ease. She could handle three bales of hay, a month’s load of groceries, odd-shaped oversized flea market finds, lumber yard runs, trees and bushes and cedar chips. A horse had actually gnawed on her fender once. She was a tough chick.

Her underbelly was a fortress no bumps or grinds could dent. Once I took a wrong turn on the map looking for a shortcut to Girl Scout camp. Maybelline took us right over the pumice pass of the Jemez Mountains, teetering on the talcum top, and skittering down the other side. Low as she could go, she didn’t bottom out or lose ground, since she also had a great granny gear. That baby was just the best. Anywhere you wanted to go, from washboard valley roads to valet parking, Maybelline took you in style.

On Valentine’s Day 1987 our children Ariana and Sion Ben were abruptly disenrolled from Corrales Elementary when a measles epidemic threatened the vaccinated population to which they did not belong. One measly case constitutes an epidemic, according to state disease authorities, so everyone else got booster shots, and our kids came home.

We were suddenly homeschoolers, with a two-year-old, too. Soon after that shock sunk in, we felt free and renewed, unencumbered by the schedules and demands of the system. What should we do? Road-trip, said Maybelline.

We piled the kids and lots of other stuff in Maybelline, and headed south for Carlsbad Caverns to see what was under the ground. Bats and guano and weird drippy rocks was the answer to that. In the days before seatbelts became unquestionable, we questioned our sanity in the rolling playhouse that was the Cadillac. Max spent hours stretched out like a cat stark-naked on the rear window shelf, passing time by repeatedly rolling off onto the seat, climbing back up and rolling off again.

Maybelline took us on many trips to see the peaks, river valleys, ghost towns and hot springs of Colorado and New Mexico, usually caravaning with family and friends. Once we forgot Max at the Ponchas Pass truck stop, thinking he was in the other car! We went back to find him enjoying a hot fudge sundae with a worried waitress.

Although it seemed she never needed major repairs, we became concerned that Maybelline might strand us, or we‘d be towed home a hundred miles someday. Small parts began to fail, requiring lengthy searches through junkyards—her cruise control, windshield wiper pump, a neutral safety switch. A neutral safety switch, what’s that?

Robert had seen a Buick station wagon on a carlot one day, and he said it was a good buy. Loaded, an Estate Wagon, a big shiny beast–the last year of its model. I went to look at it and shook my head—No way, I wouldn’t even get in it. Ozzie and Harriet’s car, a grocery go-getter, Little League-mom car-pooling Buick station wagon with fake wood sides and working seatbelts? I would never drive that. But it was a really good buy, no doubt, at ten times what we paid for the Cadillac—about what my parents paid for a four bedroom house in 1956.

Maybelline broke down and stranded me in the Bag ‘n Save parking lot that very day, and this time it wasn’t a problem that could be fixed with a jump of juice or a hammer-blow to the solenoid. She was an old lady with wrinkles, and cracks in her back-seat. Ariana was clearly ashamed of her. Oil was leaking from somewhere in her private parts, and the new gas stations didn’t carry her cup of tea anymore.

We took the Buick station wagon for a test-drive and never took it back. It was the perfect scenic ride for two happy retrievers, and they moved right in. Skis and saddles, balls and bats, cross-town commutes and airport pickups were handled. We would have to get used to each other.

As a family we pondered Maybelline’s future: nursing home or junkyard? Max was particularly attached to her, the only car he’d ever known. We considered putting her out back to pasture as a work of art, commonly a New Mexico lawn ornament. Instead, she went off with Emily for $600 and trade. She could be seen tooling up and down Corrales Road for years after that.

One day I pulled out in traffic and came up behind her—our Maybelline. Robert and I looked at each other and whistled, thinking the same thought. She really did have a great rear-end.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Noah loves to drive!

Monday, July 14, 2003

More than a week has gone by, and we are still frying like
hotcakes on the griddle. The air is thick with summer smoke,
burning sun glares red through the haze, like the dog days
on the east coast.

I guess this is my excuse for not blogging that much - too
hot, too strange. Inside the house we are locked up tight,
doors shut, windows shut, and the fans are blowing on you
all the time. Ceiling fans, attic fans, rotating buzzing fans,
floor fans, swamp coolers and refrigerated air, continuously
rotating in search of cool breezes.

Outside the heat hits you like a hammer. Immediately parching
your skin, your throat, blowing cotton and twigs and tearing
leaves off the trees, it is really lovely. Delightful, for about 2 minutes.

I was watching one of my favorite movies the other night - The Man
Who Would Be King. The part I saw was when the two Englishmen
(Sean Connery and Michael Caine) are holed up under an overhang
on the edge of an abyss, pondering the end of their lives in such
a place. There is no way they can cross the enormous crevasse in
the snow, and they consider the length of their days, what they

They decide that, no, they did not do good deeds; they did not help
to save the world; really they weren't worth much as that goes, but...
they remember the things they saw that no man had seen, the
crazy times they had...and they accept the value of their lives in that,
and they start laughing, whooping and hollering, side-splitting laughter
rings out over the high peaks...

Which causes an avalanche to tumble snow from the mountains above
them, and the snow piles and piles, and it fills the that
when the sky clears, they step out into the bright day and walk across
the beautiful snow to safety...

This makes me think that while we sit here, wondering how we will cross
this crevasse, we must come to accept our crazy, beautiful lives, and
laugh from the depths, belly-laughs that will loosen the moorings of our

Saturday, July 05, 2003

Now that it's the Fifth of July, let's relax
with some easy reading -

The Declaration of Independence --

This is a pretty subversive and excellent document right here:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train ! of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.........>more at site Thanks~~to

The Little Old lady From Pasadena

Let America Be America Again
by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes,
published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.
Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.

Thanks! to Neil Jensen

The Cost of War

Be sure to check out The Cost of War

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."

President Dwight D. Eisenhower
April 16, 1953

War affects everyone, not just those directly involved in the fighting. This webpage is a simple attempt to demonstrate one of the more quantifiable effects of war: the financial burden it places on our tax dollars.

To the right you will find a running total of the amount of money spent by the US Government to finance the war in Iraq. This total is based on estimates from the Congressional Budget Office. Below the total are a number of different ways that we could have chosen to use the money. Try clicking on them; you might be surprised to learn what a difference we could have made--

Friday, July 04, 2003

Here's my photoblog for the day -
Happy Fourth of July! - another year,
another parade in Small Town, USA -
New Mexico...

The shriners

Beautiful Fifty-five Ford!


Uncle Sam hitches a ride...

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Recent Distractions
Here's a website I've been perusing, with amazement
and laughter : Don't miss this! - Link -
Thanks to, this is an actual
Scientology recruitment manual from 1976 -
It's a shag-carpet-era hilarious staged collection
of Scientology's best....
...this 1970s-era Church of Scientology picturebook,
laughably written and lavishly illustrated with photos
of loinclothed enlightened souls who look suspiciously
like Jim Morrison....

Also, I've been enjoying the music of the Moylan Sisters,
two talented little girls who sang on the radio back in the '30s
and '40s.
When they made their network debut in 1939, they were 5 and 7 years old.
Listen to their recordings!

In case we forget about the accomplishments of our El Presidente,
check out his resume,as posted on's blog...

Another amazing site which must be seen is the SARS digital art project---

The Free Range Chickens

These are three hens, free-ranging out in the field after a long
hot day in the shade of my patio. They are supposed to be
next door, but have been here for about a week.

The New Yorker had a cartoon by Roz Chast this week,
which was all about my visiting chickens! The balloon-thoughts coming
out of their cockly pea-brains were something like, "There's a whole
world out there! Let's go take it on, girls!" thoughts exactly,
watching this trio buck-buck around the yard. If I ran at them, to chase
them, they would turn toward me and run past me in the opposite
direction. If I led them, they would follow. If I wasn't paying any attention
to them, they scratched up my scrawny pansies and marigolds.

I wrote a story about my neighbor's chickens a few years ago...
It is called My Feathered Friend....